Fake News @ Davidson, A Multidisciplinary Discussion and a Humor Column

FOILING FAKE NEWS: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY DISCUSSION ON NAVIGATING THE MEDIA

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 – 11:05 AM – 12:05 PM
Fake news has become a buzzword that can mean many things to many people. But what does it mean for us at Davidson? How prepared are students to identify fake news and navigate today’s media? How might a liberal arts approach inform our understanding of fake news and help us avoid being taken in by it? Join us for a panel discussion to explore these questions. Librarians will present data about incoming Davidson students’ ability to evaluate media sources and faculty members will bring their unique disciplinary training to bear on the issue of fake news.

LOCATION
Knobloch Campus Center Alvarez- Smith 900 Room

Foiling Fake News poster

There have been a number of college humor magazines in Davidson’s history: Scripts and Pranks, The David’s Onion, The Davidphonian, The Devoidsonian and The Yowl; although, The Yowl is the only edition to be reawakened in the twenty-first century.  In 2004, it reappeared as a column in “The Davidsonian”, bringing its version of the news to provide entertainment to the Davidson community.  The final issue of the 2016-2017 academic term proclaimed, “This Issue Brought to You By: Undying Cynicism”  and provided “The Yowl’s Year in Review.”  The September 7, 2017 issue, in keeping with the theme of fake news, stated, “This Issue Brought To You By: A Gross Violation of Journalistic Integrity.”

 

The Chameleon’s Color: The Story of a Short-Lived Student Literary Magazine

This week’s blog highlights a short-lived student-run literary magazine: The Chameleon. The Chameleon, which ran from 1926 through 1930, was born out of the Davidson Monthly, first published in 1870. In the 1880s the Monthly became Davidson College Magazine, and then morphed into The Chameleon in 1926.

The first issue of The Chameleon, May 1926.

The first issue of The Chameleon, May 1926.

The first issue, put out in May 1926, showed a magazine in transition – no single editor was named, but editorial duties were credited to the Blue Pencil Chapter of Sigma Upsilon, which was the local chapter of a southern literary society. By the November 1926 issue, Holcombe M. Austin (Class of 1927), who had had a short story published in that first Chameleon issue a few months prior, was installed as editor. Austin penned the first “Cham’s Colors” editorial, which explained the impetus behind the shift in the publication and its goals:

Last spring an alumnus, three years graduate, when he had finished reading the red-covered pamphlet, the ‘official, licensed magazine’, sent to him from his alma mater, commented, “Why the boys don’t believe in the kind of stuff that’s in here. This wild thing is just a half-baked imitation of the green-backed radical type of magazine. I know that the thinking men in The College aren’t in sympathy with this kind of thing.”

In attempting escape from the brand “collegiate” the college magazine has wandered afield, lost its way, and with that scarified its value as a student publication.

THE CHAMELEON would be otherwise, would be distinctly Davidson, distinctly student… CHAM wants on his pages the color of student opinion and thought.

Holcombe M. Austin's full editorial in the first issue of the new Chameleon, November 1926.

Holcombe M. Austin’s full editorial in the first issue of the new Chameleon, November 1926.

The Davidsonian covered the release of the December 1926 Cham in their December 16 issue, explaining that “various types of criticism received concerning the first number of this magazine have aided materially in molding the form of this edition.” The story went on to explain the recurring design scheme of The Chameleon:

The Chameleon will begin its policy of changing colors every issue with this edition. The cover of this number being a light blue, the name of the magazine and the usual cut being printed with dark blue ink and shaded with silver. This combination will make as striking an appearance as the jacket in which the first edition was enclosed.

The first three covers of the new run of The Chameleon, showing the repeated design.

The first three covers of the new run of The Chameleon, showing the repeated design.

The cover design of The Chameleon followed this pattern from November 1926 until February 1930. In the December 1936 issue, editor Holcombe M. Austin expanded upon the purpose of the magazine:

The cry of every college editor, the cry, for that matter, of every editor who pilots a magazine of literary pretensions, is for the distinctive, “the original.” Not that the bizarre or extreme is demanded, but when there comes to the editor’s desk a short story or essay through strangely characteristic style or curiousness of subject matter achieves the unusual, his heart is filled with gladness. He clasps the manuscript to his bosom and gives praise… CHAM is looking forward to spring raiment. Then, as now, color without, and so help him students, within!

After this editorial no others were published in the magazine until what would be its last issue in February 1930. In that issue, which also featured a new cover design, editor-in-chief Robert F. Jarratt (Class of 1930), explained the changes to the magazine and hinted at its uncertain future:

Ever faithful to the connotation of its name, the CHAMELEON again changes… During it’s life the CHAMELEON has the Quips and Cranks, and the Davidsonian, both grow to maturity. While the CHAMELEON instead of growing stronger with the passing years, has deteriorated with age…

For the past few years there have been constant changes in the CHAMELEON, all due to the efforts of the editor to strike upon a combination that will be pleasing to the members of the student body, and also reflect the best of student body literary efforts. What few changes that will be made this year, are only tentative efforts to hit upon this combination. Whether they are effective will be demonstrated by their performance.

The cover and editorial of the February 1930 issue.

The cover and editorial of the February 1930 issue.

Unfortunately, The Chameleon‘s redesign did not save it, and the February 1930 issue was its last. College humor magazines The Yowl and Scripts ‘N’ Pranks sprung up in 1935 and 1936 to fill the gap, and Davidson College was without a strictly literary student-run magazine until Hobart Park began in 1978.

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Freshman: Highlighting Student Publication Sanity Rare

Student publications are invaluable to the Archives & Special Collections here at Davidson College – we use the annual Quips and Cranks and weekly newspaper The Davidsonian countless times per semester in instruction and to answer reference questions. In addition to verifying facts, these student-produced publications provide insight into student culture at the time they were written. Recently, while answering a reference question, I stumbled across a reference to a short-lived student humor magazine called Sanity Rare.

Covers of the 1925 and 1926 issues of Sanity Rare.

Covers of the 1925 and 1926 issues of Sanity Rare.

Sanity Rare was published by the Junior Class as part of the Junior Speaking program in 1925, 1926, and 1927. By the 1920s Junior Speaking, which had grown out of commencement exercises for the Junior and Senior classes, separated from the Senior exercises and turned unto a social weekend featuring variety shows. Later, Junior Speaking would morph into a dance weekend and then Spring Frolics, still celebrated today. Sanity Rare, published in conjunction with Junior Speaking, was filled with jokes, cartoons, short poems, and advertisements for local businesses. The 1927 Quips and Cranks featured a page on Sanity Rare, describing the magazine as “a safety valve for the humorists and cartoonists on the campus.”

Cover of the 1927 issue of Sanity Rare, and the student activity page describing the magazine and listing its staff in the 1927 Quips and Cranks.

Cover of the 1927 issue of Sanity Rare, and the student activity page describing the magazine and listing its staff in the 1927 Quips and Cranks.

Like the longer-running humor magazines The Yowl (1930 – 1936, revived as a column in The Davidsonian in 2004) and Scripts ‘N Pranks (1936 – 1965), Sanity Rare poked fun at Davidson students (particularly freshmen), faculty, and traditions and as well as social issues of the time.

This cartoon from the 1925 Sanity Rare pokes fun at a practical life application of chemistry studies - making moonshine.

This cartoon from the 1925 Sanity Rare pokes fun at a practical life application of chemistry studies – making moonshine during prohibition.

From the 1926 Sanity Rare, the joke this blog takes its title from.

From the 1926 Sanity Rare, the joke this blog takes its title from.

"Junior Class Questionnaire" from the 1926 Sanity Rare.

“Junior Class Questionnaire” from the 1926 Sanity Rare.

Dances were not permitted on campus until the 1940s, as this is page in the 1927 Sanity Rare lampoons.

Dances were not permitted on campus until the 1940s, as this is page in the 1927 Sanity Rare lampoons.

This joke from the 1927 Sanity Rare ribs both fraternities and Davidson's boarding house tradition.

This joke from the 1927 Sanity Rare ribs both fraternities and Davidson’s boarding house tradition.

Many of the jokes in the magazine surrounded dating and Sanity Rare‘s editorial page always listed several women under the category “Inspirational and Otherwise,” perhaps commenting on the fact that many students invited dates to Junior Speaking weekend. The 1926 editorial page, for instance, opens with this address to its readers: “SANITY RARE extends to the many young ladies, who have honored us with their presence on this joyous occasion, a most sincere welcome. During the long winter months as we sat in our rooms, thinking fondly of the days of Junior Speaking, the thought of your presence among us was an inspiration.”

Editorial page of the 1926 issue of Sanity Rare.

Editorial page of the 1926 issue of Sanity Rare, which also calls for the establishment of a regular humor magazine on campus – a void that The Yowl and then Scripts ‘N Pranks would later fill.

While Sanity Rare and other college humor magazines provide a valuable glimpse into student life from an earlier period, they also often illustrate intolerance – much of the material in Sanity Rare struck me as racist, sexist, and in poor taste. When our run of Scripts ‘N Pranks was digitized by a student during summer 2014 (Ellyson Glance ’16; see her post on her archives summer work here), she also commented on how many of the jokes in the pages of that mid-century humor magazine offended her.

This section from the 1925 issues of Sanity Rare is an example of the racist and antisemtic jokes that frequenrly appear in the pages of Sanity Rare.

This section from the 1925 issue is an example of the racist and antisemitic jokes that frequently appear in the pages of Sanity Rare.

While jokes mocking the African-American population or giving dating “advice” that suggests date rape certainly does not make for enjoyable reading, these humor magazines are still providing a portrait of student life – in Sanity Rare‘s case, what some Davidson students found funny in the mid-1920s. Preserving material that provides negative views or makes researchers (and archivists!) uncomfortable is important – knowing what past generations of students considered acceptable within the bounds of humor lets today’s researchers gain insight into the specific culture of Davidson College, but also wider student culture and American culture.

As College President Carol Quillen commented in the recent Huffington Post article, “What Three College Presidents Learned from Campus Racism Protests,” “When students are looking to the institution… some of what they’re doing is saying, ‘Do your job’… your job is to give [them] what [they] need to go from this experience of marginalization and pain to a political position. That’s what education does, and insofar as we’re not doing that for them, we need to do better.” In this archivist’s opinion, part of doing my job better is aiding students and other researchers in understanding the history of Davidson College – even when that history reflects badly on our community.

Say It Isn’t So

This week Around the D is featuring news stories that may have reader’s wishing that it wasn’t so.

Spring 1949 was not a happy for Davidson seniors.

1949 story on an extended semester for seniors.

1949 story on an extended semester for seniors.

 

According to the story, a loss of all first semester grade records resulted in the decision to have the class of 1949 retake their exams from that semester.  The college did offer to cover fees for the GRE for any students opting to take those as well.

A few years later, controversy struck campus in two events: one involving journalism and the other athletics.

Davidsonian editor in trouble in 1953.

Davidsonian editor in trouble in 1953.

The good news is that the libel suit didn’t involve any Davidson publications, just Mike Myers, good friend of Bill Edwards. While there were no follow up stories, it appears that the suit was dismissed.  The same proved true for the athletes, with the Davidsonian exaggerating their involvement in the “top money fix of all time.”

 

Even before Bob McKillop, the basketball team had ties to New York.

Even before Bob McKillop, the basketball team had ties to New York.

In 1955, athletics were trouble-free but the Student Government faced unprecedented power shifts.

1955 SGA upset

1955 SGA upset

The article reports on confrontations beginning in Georgia dorm and moving into Chapel resulting in a minor injury to organist Herb Russell.

Less controversial but in the end less successful was a proposed memorial to Davidson’s presidential alumnus, Woodrow Wilson.

Student editorial cartoonist Don Mahy's rendition of the memorial.

Student editorial cartoonist Don Mahy’s rendition of the memorial.

As noted in a previous Around the D, Davidson has hosted some big name concerts. Over the decades campus shows include performers Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, and Ludacris.  Here’s one from  1958 we missed.

You might say the 1958-59 Artist Series took a new twist with this daring selection.

You might say the 1958-59 Artist Series took a new twist with this daring selection.

In the same issue announcing the concert, campus planners received attention for proposing a new style of dormitory.  Intended to be named for Woodrow Wilson, perhaps because of the failure of the proposed 1955 memorial, the dorm would have given the Charlotte skyline a challenge.

1958 proposal for a high-rise for Davidson.

1958 proposal for a high-rise for Davidson.

We can now say “It isn’t quite so.”  If you haven’t guessed it already, all these stories have one important feature in common– being published on April 1.

Happy April Fools Day

 

 

Religious Satire – Davidson Style

The ability to laugh at ourselves is a gift. The work of political and satirical cartoons is to make us think, to see another perspective and to challenge the practice of taking anything too seriously.

Around the D joins in the international proclaims of “Je suis Charlie” this week with a look at student cartoons around the topic of religion at Davidson.

From 30 October 1953 poking fun at students inattention during Chapel.

From 30 October 1953 poking fun at students inattention during Chapel.

The earliest cartoon found comes from 1953. The caption reads “In Davidson Everybody Reads the Davidsonian” and depicts students ignoring a Chapel speaker by reading the paper.  Sixteen years later, student efforts to avoid chapel still inspired the Davidsonian cartoonists.

From 7 February 1969,  mocking both exam season and student tricks to avoid chapel.

From 7 February 1969, mocking both exam season and student tricks to avoid chapel.

In 1960, segregation was a hot topic at Davidson with students still deeply divided.  This cartoon plays on the college’s Presbyterian heritage and the 10 commandments adding an 11th commandment Thou shalt love thy white neighbor as thyself.

From 16 February 1960 protesting segregation.

From 16 February 1960 protesting segregation.

From 8 April 1960 juxtaposing Davidson College Presbyterian Church and a favorite local bar

From 8 April 1960 juxtaposing Davidson College Presbyterian Church and a favorite local bar

This cartoon plays with student love of beer (Our Lady of Milwalkee) and their dislike of regular church attendance.

Student apathy, whether towards church and chapel services or involvement in the religious service activities of the YMCA was a popular theme.

From 10 November 1961 showing a student taking rather than leaving shoes for a YMCA drive

From 10 November 1961 showing a student taking rather than leaving shoes for a YMCA drive

From 19 October 1962 with more direct criticism of student apathy

From 19 October 1962 with more direct criticism of student apathy

From 7 December 1962 satirizing student preference for holiday parties over charity

From 7 December 1962 satirizing student preference for holiday parties over charity

College policies, particularly around the practices of religious requirements for faculty and faculty oaths, became a re-occurring theme.

From 17 October 1958, this cartoon accompanied an editorial on the required faculty oath.

From 17 October 1958, this cartoon accompanied an editorial on the required faculty oath.

From 23 October 1964, the ball and chain motif reappears, this time hampering new faculty from applying to Davidson

From 23 October 1964, the ball and chain motif reappears, this time hampering new faculty from applying to Davidson

From 20 November 1964, criticizing the Board of Trustees for focusing on faculty oaths instead of campus reforms.

From 20 November 1964, criticizing the Board of Trustees for focusing on faculty oaths instead of campus reforms.

From 20 April 1977, during the Linden controversy

From 20 April 1977, during the Linden controversy

The Cuban crisis in 1962 inspired a cartoon about religious blockades at Davidson.

From 26 October 1962 showing a Cuba-shaped Davidson College caught between tradition and new vesper policies

From 26 October 1962 showing a Cuba-shaped Davidson College caught between tradition and new vesper policies

The appearance of an atheist speaker on campus in 1964 brought a bit of dinosaur humor to the editorial page.

From 14 February 1964, cartoon and headline from editorial

From 14 February 1964, cartoon and headline from editorial

Questions of war and peace arose in 1963 and 1967.

From 18 October 1963, peace message not being well-received by students

From 18 October 1963, peace message not being well-received by students

From 29 September 1967, using a quotation from the college catalog to raise issues of faith and war

From 29 September 1967, using a quotation from the college catalog to raise issues of faith and war

In 1984, a student group, the Davidson Christian Fellowship held a mock funeral on campus. The Davidsonian article reporting on the funeral and the demise of DCF begins:

DCF is dead,”declared Davidson Christian Fellowship President Frank Ivey. In a dramatic ceremony at Coffee and Cokes last Wednesday in front of Chambers, several DCF members dressed in sombre clothes, and bearing a coffin, pronounced the organization’s demise. This means that there will be no more large group meetings.  The Fellowship ceases to exist. Spokesmen Craig Detweiler and Ivey explained that DCF had failed in its mission to meet the needs of Davidson students. They criticized themselves and DCF for misrepresenting the true nature of Christianity.
While the DCF members took their decision seriously, the cartoonist in the same issie offered a lighter perspective.
From 20 April 1984,  with St. Peter questioning self-martyrdom

From 20 April 1984, with St. Peter questioning self-martyrdom

Here are a few more editorial efforts:

Davidson Resolutions

Happy New Year from Around the D!

In case you are having trouble coming up with appropriate resolutions for 2015, here’s a look at some resolutions from New Years past:

In 1922, students were encouraged to attend the YMCA Sunday evening meetings. Noting that these meetings were “the only religious meeting at Davidson which the student body can claim as distinctively its own,” the Davidsonian editors rued that “attendance is not what it should be.” For those editors, it was not enough that half to two-thirds of the student body was now attending. They asked that every student (all 512 enrolled in 1922) to “resolve to become a regular attender.”

January 13, 1922 Davidsonian editoral "New Year Resolutions"

January 13, 1922 Davidsonian editoral “New Year Resolutions”

Being a better student has been a popular them – appearing in editorials in 1927, 1955, 1960, and 2011. Taking a very serious tone, the 1927 editors declared, ” To everyone the New Year holds out a challenge, but this challenge is particularly directed at college students, the men and women who are preparing themselves for the great job of making the world fit during the next generation.” They encouraged students to consider the question, “Why are you in college?” and how well their time is being used.

January 13, 1927 Davidsonian editorial challenging students to reflect on why they are in college.

January 13, 1927 Davidsonian editorial challenging students to reflect on why they are in college.

Gilbert Gragg, class of 1955

Gilbert Gragg, class of 1955

Gilbert Gragg took a satirical approach in 1955 creating a list of resolutions that included:

I resolve to continue taking every cut allowed me.

I resolve never to been on campus after noon on Saturday and before seven on Sunday.

I resolve to not participate in UCM or attend any of the Artist Series, as I may be stimulated and challenged.

I resolve to be as critical as possible of every aspect of Davidson life to show my maturity and independence.

January 14, 1955 Davidsonian article by Gilbert Gragg

January 14, 1955 Davidsonian article by Gilbert Gragg.

The writer of the 1960 editorial focused on organizations more than individuals finding that student organizations needed to be more focused, the Interfraternity Council was making “little effort to integrate their work with the educational aims of the college,” the YMCA leadership lacked a clear vision, the Student Council and Davidsonian were deemed below par, and the campus had “little basic criticism and debate, and even less encouragement of them.” He did have kinder words for the International Relations Club for their promotion of African issues and the denominational fellowships for deepening their activities.

One question remains -who is the Robinson offering this critique?

January 8, 1960 New Year's resolutions editorial

January 8, 1960 New Year’s resolutions editorial

In 2011 the focus shifted from campus life to wellness, with writer Jaqui Logan offering gentle tips for healthy resolutions.

January 19, 2011 resolution advice article

January 19, 2011 resolution advice article

Paul Alderman, class of 1931

Paul Alderman, class of 1931

On a few occasions, the sports page writers claimed the resolution making. In 1930, P. R. Alderman sought to improve Davidson athletic future by having students join in recruiting efforts. While acknowledging that “No one can truthfully say that Davidson is a losing college as far as athletics are concerned,” he also argued that “at the same time it is fighting against great odds, just as other comparatively small schools are.” His New Year’s suggestion was for students to “write or speak to a friend who has made good in athletics in high school” and encourage them to come to Davidson.

January 16, 1930 article by Paul Alderman

January 16, 1930 article by Paul Alderman

Will Bryan and Suzy Eckl took a wider approach in 2007 encouraging their fellow students to: get interactive, spend time with friends, save money, be kind to your neighbor, get in shape, honor thy elders and learn something new – all with a sports twist. Spending time with friends meant waiting in line together to pick up basketball tickets, saving money happened by attending more sports events (since they are free to students), and honor thy elders meant celebrating Bob McKillop’s 300th win and pushing for the basketball court to named for him (finally happened in 2014!)

January 24, 2007 Davidsonian sports resolutions

January 24, 2007 Davidsonian sports resolutions

And finally, what would resolutions be without at least one humor column? in 1963, Dave Pusey reported statements submitted to the fictional Faculty Committee on New Year’s and Hannukah Resolutions. These included competing demands from benefactors Charles Dana and the Belk Family with Dana demanding Belk dorm be renamed for him and the Belks demanding that the (then) new science building be renamed for them.

Henry Lilly, beloved English professor or snarling gambler?

Henry Lilly, beloved English professor or snarling gambler?

English professor Henry Lilly announced that he was “sick of being a kindly old gent type, and will revert to my secret desire of being a professional gambler, complete with snarl, eyeshades, and brocaded vest.

Dorm mother Mrs. J. B. Moore declared her intention of selling all the  pin-ups she’s confiscated for a college fund and music professor and choir director Don Plott announced his ambition to get the Male Chorus on TV by including “in its repertoire for the coming year numerous Ferlin Huskey songs and a trained chimp act.”

For more fun, click on the article below:

January 11, 1963 tongue-in-cheek resolutions

January 11, 1963 tongue-in-cheek resolutions

What ever your resolutions are for 2015, Around the D hopes following us will be one of them!

A Summer of Scanning, Editing, Uploading, and Researching

This week’s post is written by Vera Shulman ’15, a student assistant at Davidson College’s E.H. Little Library. She wrote this entry on August 22, 2014.

This summer I worked as a library information desk assistant. My days were split between staffing the desk, shifting the Library of Congress stacks in the basement, and completing various tasks in the  Archives & Special Collections. My archives duties ranged from perusing local newspapers for filing (in which I was immersed in the excitement and ultimate disappointment of 2008’s college basketball championship) to transcribing oral interviews. I re-housed and filed massive decades-old maps (with help from student coworker Ellyson) and skimmed through Davidson’s 1914-1919 yearbooks and weekly newspapers for references to WWI.

Senior student profiles in the 1915 Quips and Cranks.

Senior student profiles in the 1915 Quips and Cranks.

The latter task interested me thoroughly due to the very polite and dry humor. By modern standards, though, a slim but noticeable portion of that writing was insensitive to concerns with race and gender. During that time, Davidson College became preoccupied with supporting the national war effort with Liberty Loans and stamps and by training students in the freshly formed Student Army Training Corps (which following the war, turned into our current ROTC).

Page from the 1918 Quips and Cranks.

Page from the 1918 Quips and Cranks.

My favorite tasks, though, were the ones that played to my strengths in visual media. I had a whole set of these responsibilities that all boil down to scanning, editing, and uploading an image for use on the archives website. I processed Davidson’s 2010, 2011, and 2012 yearbooks (called Quips and Cranks); dozens of recent school newspapers (named The Davidsonian), and old editions of July-born author’s works.

Covers of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 editions of Quips and Cranks.

Covers of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 editions of Quips and Cranks, available in the Davidson College Digital Repository.

Because the yearbooks are recent, working with Quips and Cranks allowed me to reminisce about friends and events (and grimace in the case of ex-boyfriends) and better associate formerly unknown peers’ faces with their names. The editing required for the yearbook scanning is very similar to the photo editing I do for leisure, so I actively enjoyed cropping and re-angling those pages. I didn’t form a solid connection with The Davidsonian because I used a closed scanner which didn’t allow me to browse as I scanned.

Trail of a bookworm.

Trail of a bookworm.

The old editions of July-born author’s works are beautiful. The pages were thick and a few grazed on by literal book worms. Some of the covers were marbled in a way that seemed similar to a technique I’d used in primary school for my own book covers. Some illustrations were cartoon, in some the strokes were sparse, and others were both intricate and realistic.

A Summer of Scripts ‘N Pranks

This week’s post is written by Ellyson Glance ’16, a student assistant at Davidson College’s E.H. Little Library.

For the bulk of my summer at the library, I found myself in a place to which I had barely ventured, save for the library tour during orientation and the rare instance where a library patron would ask me for directions while I was at the information desk: the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections.

During my time in the archives, I was responsible for various projects and tasks assigned to me by our brilliant and lively archives staff – consisting of Jan Blodgett, Sharon Byrd, and Caitlin Christian-Lamb. Every day I became more and more familiar with the storage, care, and organization of our archives, and never could I have imagined how immense their scope would be. Not only did I get the chance to handle artifacts from both the town and the college, but I also got the chance to actually do some research for the archivists through perusing the archival storage areas. Here in the archives, I could interact with the history of the college I love as well as pass on that information to others via my projects.

Transcriptions

One of my earliest, and possibly favorite, projects was the transcription of a lengthy interview with Dr. Charles Dockery, a former French professor at Davidson and the first African-American professor to teach at the college. I was transfixed by his stories and accounts of his time at Davidson as well as his childhood and upbringing, which shaped him into the kind, intellectually curious, and well-spoken man that I heard through my headphones. Aside from being interested solely in the unique and thoughtful subject of the interview, however, I found myself taking a shine to the act of transcribing itself. It appealed to the perfectionist in me, and I embraced the challenge of typing out every single word or utterance within the recording.

Scripts ‘N Pranks

The bulk of my work in archives, however, was in the form of digitization, digitization, digitization! This task, in essence, is scanning, organizing, and cataloging an archival item so that it can be easily accessed on the internet. In my case, I was digitizing the entire archival collection of Scripts ‘N Pranks – a student run joke magazine, spawning from the Davidsonian’s Yowl, and spanning from 1936 to 1965. The editorial staff of the magazine put out approximately four issues a year – though some years, such as the war years, there were fewer – with each issue operating loosely off of a theme demonstrated on the cover.

The magazine itself consisted of humorous poems, short-stories, mini-plays, and cartoons, with the cover of each issue being hand drawn by the Art Director for that year. And, during its run, Scripts ‘N Pranks contained entries from the likes of novelist Vereen Bell and Sam Ryburn, an early editor for whom the Ryburn senior apartment building is named.

The magazines were filled with interesting and thematic student artwork, such as this rendering of celebrities for a political mini-play:

"Christmas Eve in the White House"

“Christmas Eve in the White House.”

But, some of my favorite drawings to look at in the magazine, particularly in earlier years, were the beautiful and richly colored advertisements that the editors would include – though that was, of course, after I got over the initial shock of having a student-run publication appear to be solely funded by cigarette companies.

"After a man's heart... nothing else will do."

“After a man’s heart…”

The majority of these magazines have now been uploaded onto the Davidson College Digital Repository, so that you can peruse, read, and enjoy these marvelous and historical relics yourself.

The Davidsonian at 100

The speed with which mason jars and cupcakes disappeared at the Davidsonian Centennial Celebration yesterday suggests that the college’s student-run newspaper holds an important place in the campus culture. Since its inception, the paper has served as both “the flagship student publication” and as an important historical resource on campus, national, and international events.

The front page of the first issue of The Davidsonian - April 1, 1914

The front page of the first issue of The Davidsonian – April 1, 1914

The inaugural Editor-in-Chief, Frank W. Price (class of 1915), touched on the central role the student newspaper can play in the first editorial:

“[The Davidsonian] should be in close touch with every phase of college life and the life of the community about it. Even in a small college, life becomes more and more complex, and as the students are broken up into an increasing number of groups, there is a tendency not to look beyond the questions and the matter in which one man is directly interested. The college newspaper should give live information about every group and department of college activity, keep them acquainted with each other, and thus promote a feeling of mutual interest and encouragement. In addition, these are the things which vitally concern every student, and yet which are not well know or misunderstood.”

It is this “close touch” with the college and community that makes The Davidsonian such a valuable archival resource, in addition to its more immediate value as a news source and teaching tool. The Archives & Special Collections team frequently digs into both the print and digitized issues of The Davidsonian (and starting this year, The Davidsonian staff have been digging through these archives too – for a running feature where an archival article is re-published in each issue), and in celebration of this momentous occasion, we’d like to share a few lesser-viewed archival gems.

Ever wondered how The Davidsonian gets written? Well, in 1961, Editor-in-Chief Wallace B. Millner compiled “The Davidsonian Style Book and Short Course for Freshman Reporters,” in “a long overdue effort to catalog and standardize some style points” for the paper. In addition to setting parameters as to grammar and style, this guide included helpful tips on how to conduct interviews and write news stories, including how to construct a lead:

How to Write a Lead for The Davidsonian in 1961

“Earl Jones, Davidson economics professor, was apprehended by police last night while attempting to force entry into Charlotte’s Wachovia Bank.”

Another look behind the scenes of newspaper production can be provided through reporters’ assignment sheets or cards, such as the ones found in the scrapbooks of Hugh H. Smith (class of 1923) and Thomas T. Jones (class of 1928):

Smith's assignment sheet

Smith’s assignment sheet

A sample of Jones' assignment cards

Two of Jones’ assignment cards

The college archives holds the page layouts for the 75th anniversary edition of The Davidsonian:

Front page layout for the April 1989 75th anniversary

Front page layout for the April 1989 75th anniversary

Although many things have changed at Davidson (and elsewhere!) over the past 100 years, as Jan Blodgett pointed out, some issues have remained consistent, as the program from The Davidsonian banquet in 1920 makes clear:

Timely issues, and and interesting look at 1920s cuisine

Timely issues, and and interesting look at 1920s cuisine

As a counterpoint, the 1966 banquet featured a less detailed program and menu:

The 1966 Davidsonian banquet

The 1966 Davidsonian banquet featured less punch, at least on the menu

The Davidsonian has served as the campus news source for a century, including providing much-needed comic relief – a role currently filled by The Yowl. A glance through our archival holdings reveals issues of The David’s Onion, The Davidphonian, and The Devoidsonian, among others:

This column appeared in The Devoidsonian, vol. 666, no. ∞, published "Post-Trustee" (based on the content of the articles, this was most likely sometime between 1978 and 1983)

This column appeared in The Devoidsonian, vol. 666, no. ∞, published “Post-Trustee” (though undated, based on the content of the articles, this was most likely during the 1981-82 academic year)

Front page of The Davidphonian, "The Nation's Third Worst College Weekly," published May 5, 1998

Front page of The Davidphonian, “The Nation’s Third Worst College Weekly,” published May 5, 1998

If this week’s Centennial activities have piqued your interest in the past, present, or future of the college’s newspaper, check out the Davidsonian Reunion on April 12. As Marcus Bailey pointed out in his February 2013 editorial, “Why I write for the Davidsonian and you should too,” The Davidsonian is an excellent gateway to getting involved, both on the campus and with the world – just as it has been for the past 100 years.

Valentine’s Day with Scripts N’ Pranks

Davidson students have a long history of extracurricular writing during their time “around the D,” and one example of that tradition is Scripts N’ Pranks, which focused on “literature (scripts) and humor (pranks) as well as a horrible parody, for which we have already apologized.” (Quips and Cranks, 1936) The magazine ran from 1936 to 1965, and its more “serious” features often appear to spoof women’s magazines or crime fiction of the era. In celebration of Valentine’s Day later this week, we present a sample of both the literary and humorous takes on love found in the earliest few years of Scripts N’ Pranks:

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“Fullback and Frances” by Charles Crane, December 1936. Tagline: “Romance Comes to the Small College Campus… Brawn vs. Brain Trust…”. Summary: dumb football player falls for “dreamy, theatrical” girl, who he attempts to save from a fire, only to learn that she was not in her dormitory because she had eloped with the campus “brain” instead. “She liked to study and build air castles, and seemed to have intellectual curiosity, something that was scarce in a cheap little educational mill like Lennox-Smith. Professor Patton would have diagnosed the whole affair as a psychological mis-adjustment, but Bill, being a freshman, with an IQ of 88, didn’t go in for diagnoses, even of his own problems.”

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“Spring Sorrow” by Hugh Stone, March 1937. Tagline: “A Story of Growing Things – Pale Pink and Yellow – And of Blonde Hair Like a Halo.” Summary: college junior embittered about the “romance of spring” after being jilted by hometown sweetheart. “That was last year, but now that it’s spring again and the shrubs are blooming just the same way they did last year, is it any wonder that Bill turns away with a cold laugh when love is mentioned?”

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“His Coming,” The Yowl, November 1937. Summary: a woman gets exactly what she wants. “If he would only come and say that single, longed for, hoped for, little word!”

“Chapter in Chivalry” by Bob Ramsey, November 1937. Tagline: “Dreckney’s hero was a sucker for two things – middle-aged chivalry and a girl.” Summary: college football hero is engaged to a student at another school, who ditches him in favor of the rival school’s football captain. “Of course, he realized now, she hadn’t answered his telegram, for why should she encourage him in his fight against her new fiance, the captain of Grendel’s football team?”

“May Storm” by Erle Austin, May 1938. Tagline: “Michael thought, ‘Can Heaven be as gorgeous as this?'” Summary: college student goes home on a whim to visit his girlfriend and witnesses her being fatally struck by lightning. “He had not noticed a threatening black cloud which had suddenly come over the horizon. It had begun to rain. At the clap of thunder the olive green canoe with his own beautiful Anne had vanished.”

“Late Date” by Erle Austin, March 1939. Frat brother asks a beautiful, mysterious girl to a dance and falls in love, but when he attempts to give her his pin, he finds that she already has one. “… he unclasped his pin from his vest and was about to pin it on her when she said ‘Please Wycliffe, don’t do that… Let’s always be the best of friends though. Look here. I want to show you something.’ Becky had opened her evening bag and he gazed in amazement at a gorgeous Beta pin clasped to the silken lining. Wyc stammered out a very weak ‘Congratulations.'”

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“True Love” by John McKinnon, December 1940. Summary: college boy is frantic to see the woman he loves most… his mother. “He ran to her, gathered her in his arms, and smothered her with kisses. ‘Mother dear,’ he cried, ‘I’ve missed you so much. Why don’t you give up teaching and move to Davidson where I can be with you every day?'”

To read the full versions of these tales or to search for more love stories, visit the archives!